[Interview] Park Si-hoo - Part. 1
Cr. - kstar10
Actors say they want to be remembered for the characters they play, not as who they are in real life. This tough yet sweet dream has been achieved by Park Si-hoo, who played Jun-seok, a guy who aroused the maternal instinct in many ladies, in the SBS drama “How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor,” a sly lawyer Seo In-woo “Prosecutor Princess” and a cutest-ever chaebol boss Goo Yong-shick in “Queen of Reversal," both of which were also on SBS. These characters would have been unimaginable without him and some pop critics have even coined the term, "Park Si-hoo’s melo."
When we met Park before the opening of his movie “Confession of Murder,” however, he was more like Yoon Sang-hyun’s character Oscar in the SBS drama “Secret Garden” than the characters he has played. He turned out to be a provokingly smart actor who was never frustrated when he was unknown and who knew exactly what makes female viewers go crazy.
* This article contains a spoiler of “Confession of Murder.”
How did it feel when you saw your face on the big screen?
Park: It’s very satisfying. (laugh) My face look very sharp due to good use of lighting and it looks good on the big screen. Much better than I expected. I was worried if my facial or eyes expressions on big screen would make the audience feel awkward, since my character Lee Du-seok needs delicate acting. His smile is not bright and it`s hard to read his eyes. So I focused on creating odd looks in his eyes.
“I have a familiar, childish and playful personality”
The character has nothing in common with your former characters in TV series.
Park: It’s because I don’t need to repeat things I have already done on TV. I wanted to try an extremely tough character, a role that touches your heart even though the character doesn’t appear in many scenes. So I chose a murderer character to show something new. I also focused on arousing curisity. I hope the audience will wonder what his real intention is. I tried hard to show his self-reflective mode. Does he want more attention or earn money? That`s what I want people to wonder about.
It must have been an interesting part since he is not your regular murderer.
Park: I’ve always said I want to play a two-sided character. If the character is just a plain murderer, it would be a drastic change in my image I’ve built until now. But this one has a reversal in the last part so I thought it would be cool.
Although it’s your screen debut and your character is multi-faceted, it looks like you let Detective Choi [played by Jung Jae-young] take the lead from the middle of the movie.
Park: That’s what makes me feel a little sorry. I wanted to show more sides as a murderer. There was a scene where Lee Du-seok threatens someone but it was edited out. There were several reasons, but they shouldn’t have shot the scene if they were going to cut it out. (laugh)
It sounds like you have a lot of ambition riding on the film. What did you want to achieve with your first film?
Park: I wanted to expand my range through this film, It was a great choice as a first movie and I hope to hear that I did well on the big screen. The TV producers who worked with me before said they feel sorry that the character could have been more attractive than how he seems now. But that’s not the point and the point is that work should be interesting. If the work receives positive responses, that means I did something good. I can achieve my personal goals in my next project.
You underlined lines in the script of “Confession of Murder” and wrote down your thoughts carefully in KBS “Star Life Theater.” You also drew attention by depicting your previous characters in your own way. How do you interpret your characters?
Park: It’s important to have many conversations with directors and build up experiences that come after doing things one by one. It’s also essential to know what female viewers want to see. Even when it’s not an important scene, if they like it, I check it and remember it carefully.
Any special know-how? (laugh)
Park: It’s hard to explain but there is a bit of a know-how, haha. I don’t do any research but there seems to be something sad in my eyes. I became a bit relaxed after building up personal experiences, and that`s also important. When I doing the MBC drama “Let’s Get Married,” I broke up with my girlfriend after three years. She asked me why I kept doing things I did with her in TV dramas. I thought it would get good responses if I show what I did for my girlfriend. In the MBC series, my character was childish and he likes to play around and that`s actually part of my real personality.
“I haven’t done all the same bosses and chaebol successors.”
In “How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor” [“How to Meet”] you seemed to create your character, Jun-seok, with a great level of sensitivity quite aside from your acting skills. It must have been hard to persuade viewers of the drama’s concept, that of turning a woman you love into a mistress.
Park: Jun-seok is a man who arouses your maternal instinct. Female audiences are fascinated with that kind of stuff so I was sure that Jun-seok would be very well-received.
That could be one of the reasons why your role became bigger as the drama progressed. More people started to recognize you thanks to that role.
Park: That felt really good. I was so envious of my fellow actors who got lunchboxes from their fans visiting the studio. After “How to Meet,” I suddenly started to get visits from two to three fans. I thought ‘I have finally got to this stage.’ I appreciated it very much since it happened ten years since my debut.
You could have become stuck as an actor who specializes in boss parts but you made some delicate career changes after “How to Meet.”
Park: Some people say all my parts seem the same but actually they`re all different when you look at them closely. I tried to give variety in every one of them. Seo In-woo is a bit mystery and Goo Yong-shick is comic.
It seems like you created your own genre called “Park Si-hoo’s melo” by digging deep into one specialty rather than expanding your boundaries.
Park: The main characters of TV series are limited so it’s hard to make an extreme image change. Most of the male leads are Prince Charmings because they are attractive. And that’s why I took the role in the KBS drama “The Princess’ Man.” Along with its well-written script, I thought I could show various sides from an old fox bachelor early on who later turns into a burning avenger. It also appealed to younger people as I look a bit like a warrior in a comic book.
Park: He is a very funny guy, more so than Goo Yong-shick. (laugh) The scriptwriter gave a big emotional difference in his personality so he is really pathetic at times but when he wants to protect someone, he is like Daddy-Long-Legs. He has a mix of characters I have played before.
You still exude your romantic guy charms on the small screen. What is Park Si-hoo like in real life?
Park: I’m very clumsy. I want to be calm but once I realized I called a kitchen towel as a chicken towel in “Star Life Theater,” haha. But my ex-girlfriends said those things make me cute and charming. Bad guys exist only in TV dramas.
You began your acting career in 1997 and took a leading role in “Glory of Family” in 2008. What made you carry on in those 10 years?
Park: I was really brave, fearless and full of confidence. I started out like a babe in the woods after someone told me in my country hometown that “you’ll do well on TV.” I agonized only for a few months before deciding to be an actor and thought everything would be alright after moving to Seoul. That lasted 10 years.
Did you aim at an actor or a star?
Park: I dreamed of becoming a movie actor but I wanted to be successful. I`m very used to watching movies since when I was six or seven, my father took me and my brother to the movie theater a lot. But I lived deep in the countryside and I was shy of strangers so tt was not easy for me to show something to others. No one thought I could be an actor. My mother allowed me to be an actor in hope that I would gain more confidence. My father told me to go for it because he thought I would give up soon anyway. I had no talent in acting to begin with, just a lot of perseverance.
You first started out in the theatrical circle in Seoul.
Park: I put up posters and gave out flyers for plays. I appeared on the stage as extra from time to time. That was how I built up my experience. I kept doing bit parts even though it was sometimes just sitting behind the main guy. I kept going on like that and suddenly they gave me a lead since my looks are okay. It was based on my looks and I didn’t have many lines, anyway. (laugh) Then I got a TV commercial offer, again thanks to my looks and the agency introduced me a management company.
During those years, did anything happen to dent your confidence?
Park: Never. I was always fairly popular with people. (laugh) A colleague once told me, “I have no idea where you come from, but you are always well-received.” Without my self-confidence, it would have been impossible for me to do this job. For an actor or an athlete, self-confidence is the most important thing. The person is on the mound because he or she is qualified. My mom also helped with my self-esteem since I was little. Even though I`m quite clumsy, she always praised me than pick out my faults.
While some young people shoot to stardom, I built up my career little by little, getting positive responses through my work. After I became known with “Let’s Get Married” and “Which Star Are You From” on MBC, I had a period of being in a rut. I got some favorable responses with “How to Meet” and jumped up to the next level with “Glory of Family.” It was literally one step after another.
Is that why you don’t have excessive greed?
Park: I have a big plan but it’s also fun to take it step by step. “The Princess’ Man” was popular but my other roles weren`t that bad either, haha. They weren’t big hits but got favorable responses and all the characters were well-received.
Then what is your big picture?
Park: I’d like to achieve recognition not only in Korea but also overseas. You know, everything is global these days. My first goal is Asia. I think the Chinese market would be the first step.
Do you want to go Hollywood, too? (laugh)
Park: Hollywood may be a bit hard for me because of the language, haha. But you know, I can start with a role with no lines. I will get better along the way.